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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 31 Jan 15 at 17:00 PM

The Report: Blues 0 Norwich City 0

Blues and Norwich City shared the spoils in a gritty, hard-fought encounter at St. Andrew’s.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium with Lloyd Dyer coming closest for Gary Rowett’s side with a solo run early in the second period but visiting keeper John Ruddy was out smartly to deny the loanee. Norwich skipper Russell Martin saw his header cleared off the line by Paul Caddis on his 100th club appearance but overall a draw was probably just about fair.

Blues made two changes from the side that drew with Sheffield Wednesday last time out with Jonathan Spector replacing the injured Michael Morrison in the centre of defence whilst Dyer came in for Andy Shinnie, who dropped to the bench.

Norwich top scorer Cameron Jerome found himself watching from the sidelines as a substitute but the Canaries did include another former St. Andrew’s man in their starting line-up in the form of Nathan Redmond. The Blues academy graduate, who received a muted reception from the home fans on his return to his old stomping ground, was a lively presence for the visitors.

Early on Ruddy needed two attempts to grasp a 20-yard effort from David Cotterill and Demarai Gray got the merest of touches to Stephen Gleeson’s hopeful punt but could only divert the ball into the arms of the Norwich keeper.

Lewis Grabban had Norwich’s best chance of the opening quarter but he steered his volley from Redmond’s cross over under pressure from Jonathan Spector. The visitors also had a penalty appeal when Elliott Bennett went down under Caddis’ challenge but the assistant’s offside flag saved the referee from having to make a tricky decision.

Wonderful work wide on the right from Gray and Cotterill teed up the latter for a crossing opportunity. The ball landed behind Clayton Donaldson and the big striker’s turn and shot drifted well wide. The play immediately switched to the opposite end where Redmond let fly with a fierce drive from 25 yards that Darren Randolph did well to parry aside.

Dyer had a quiet first-half on his full league bow for Blues but the former West Brom man was straight into the action after the break. A terrific weaving run took him past several Norwich players inside the area but his eventual shot was well smothered by Ruddy.

Redmond’s trickery on the flank created a good opening for Martin on 56 minutes. The former Blues winger jinked past Gleeson and his deep cross picked out his captain but the defender steered his volley well over. Martin also had the visitors’ next effort but couldn’t get much contact onto his header from Redmond’s corner and the ball bounced harmlessly wide of the target.

Alex Neil’s side continued to press and Blues were indebted to their new centurion Caddis for being in the right place to nod the ball off the line after another Martin header from a Redmond corner.

Both sides made changes midway through the half as Shinnie replaced Dyer whilst Jerome made his return to the St. Andrew’s turf with Grabban making way. And then with 15 to go, the Canaries brought on Josh Murphy in place of Bennett.

Two minutes later Nikola Zigic made a little piece of Blues history as he was introduced for Donaldson to become the club’s most used sub ever. It was the 64th time the Serbian had come off the bench, taking him above the previous holder of the record, Bryan Hughes.

Blues created a late opening when Gray found space on the left and he sent a low cross into the box, Shinnie stabbing wide under pressure from a host of Norwich defenders inside a packed penalty area. Zigic had a late chance to steal all three points as the ball broke to him inside the area but with his back to goal the big man turned and fired a shot just wide.

The result keeps Blues in 11th spot in the Championship table but moves them a point nearer to the play-off zone – ten adrift of sixth placed Watford.

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